Abstracts Winter 2001

Volume 6, No. 1, Winter 2001


Global Implications of Biotechnology Keynote Address

C. S. Prakash, Professor, College of Agriculture, Tuskegee University, prakash@tusk.edu

Abstract: Nearly 40,000 people — half of them children — die every day due to hunger-related causes. In the year 2000, six national science academies (U.S., Britain, Brazil, China, India, and Mexico) and the Third World Academy of Sciences endorsed biotechnology as a valuable tool to help alleviate world hunger. Biotech-derived plants resist pests and disease, a major cause of crop damage in the developing world. More nutritious strains of staple crops are also being developed using biotechnology. Golden rice, which has an increased iron and beta-carotene content, could help more than 100 million children who suffer from vitamin A deficiency. Research is underway on fruits and vegetables that could deliver life-saving vaccines. Finally, biotechnology sustains the land’s ability to support continued farming by developing crops that more efficiently absorb nutrients from the soil so farmers need less fertilizer and non-renewable resources, such as oil and natural gas. Click here for the full article.

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Consumer Attitudes about Agricultural Biotechnology

Thomas J. Hoban, Professor of Sociology and Food Science, Department of Sociology and Anthropology, NC State University, tom_hoban@ncsu.edu

Abstract: U.S. consumers are likely to support biotechnology if its application reduces pesticide use and makes the product taste fresher or better. Male and college-educated U.S consumers are most likely to support biotechnology. U.S. consumers are more accepting of biotechnology than consumers in any other country, except China. While U.S. consumers generally support biotechnology, skepticism among consumers is growing. In the United States, continued acceptance of biotechnology will depend upon consumer awareness and understanding, recognition by the public that benefits are ethically acceptable, confidence in the government, and trust in information. Click here for the full article.

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A Review of U.S. Intellectual Property Law Applicable to Biotechnology

Theodore A. Feitshans, J.D., Extension Specialist and Lecturer, Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics, NC State University

Abstract: Intellectual property includes patents, trade secrets, copyrights, and trademark protection. The Supreme Court has determined that a living organism or its parts can be patented. Some plant varieties, like Roundup Ready® soybeans and Bt cotton, now contain patented genes. Patenting, however, has limitations. The patent application must be filed within one year and is only effective in the United States. To obtain patent protection in foreign countries, an application must be filed in each country where protection is desired. A trade secret is another way to protect intellectual property. It has a potentially infinite duration since it lasts as long as secrecy can be maintained. Most inventions are held as trade secrets until a patent is obtained. Copyright protection has not, to date, been employed to protect the intellectual property of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) and trademark protection is only used to protect the names under which GMOs are marketed. Click here for the full article.